ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.html David Zindell The WildDBook 2 of Requiem for Homo Sap...
ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.htmlbiologists, and other professionals of the Order. Ther...
ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.htmlhad once known as home. Some of the pilots called this...
ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.htmlbetween Mer Tadeos starfield and the Orders seedships ...
ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.html¨ the harshness of too many memories and sorrows. With...
ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.htmlsaid, I must remind you that youre a full pilot now. I...
ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.htmlthat they extend into universals and believe are true....
ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.html pilot¸ must pilot and fall among the stars, or else h...
ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.html Danlo looked up along the line made by the Sondervals...
ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.html  therej . So saying, the Sonderval pointed to a patch...
ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.htmlcool green lawns like so many thousands of flowers wai...
ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.html pilotP to lose himself on such a huge estate.Ø This s...
ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.html– wounded lamb, and Danlo suddenly found himself surro...
ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.htmlÆIs it so difficult that the Orders pilots have kept t...
ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.htmlAfter an awkward silence, Mer Tadeo stepped between Ka...
ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.htmlsaw, had red hair and fair skin and pale, blue eyes. T...
ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.htmlas he should, and Malaclypse stood away from the wall ...
ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.htmldeath, and death is life. He remembered that Marek, ju...
ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.html would I know?d At this, Malaclypse laughed easily, an...
ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.htmlof Mer Tadeo, convolved and amplified by the music poo...
ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.html6 Congratulations, Malaclypse said. Then he raised his...
ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.htmlrained down upon the city of Neverness. But there were...
ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.htmlinterstellar dust, the new stars continually formed an...
ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.htmlmathematics was the key that opened the many windows t...
ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.html Snowy Owl fell far and deep, and in the pit of his s...
ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.htmlcertain cluster of stars beyond the Eta Carina Nebula;...
ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.htmlcrowded, for there were nine other pilots there with h...
ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.html heads0 of his nine fellow pilots floated in the dark ...
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Proof of Concept
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5
×

Proof of Concept

1,907 views

Published on

Published in: Technology, Business
0 Comments
0 Likes
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Views
Total views
1,907
On SlideShare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
3
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
0
Comments
0
Likes
0
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Proof of Concept

  1. 1. ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.html David Zindell The WildDBook 2 of Requiem for Homo Sapiens,The Neverness Quartet: Neverness (1988)2Requiem for Homo Sapiens:*The Broken God (1992) The Wild (1995)(War in Heaven (1998) v4.9, 2006-01-13: scanned, fully proofread and formatted against hard copyby reb; there might be lapses in formatting, italics in particular PART ONE The Goddess CHAPTER ONE The Mission:Each man and woman is a star.jThe stars are the children of God alone in the night;tThe stars are the wild white seeds burning inside a woman;hThe stars are the fires that women light inside men;rThe stars are the eyes of all the Old Ones who have lived and died.RWho can hold the light of the wild stars?>Gazing at the bright black sky,VYou see only yourself looking for yourself.FWhen you look into the eyes of God,4They go on and on forever.<- from the Devaki Song of Lifeò It is my duty to record the events of the glorious and tragic Second Missionto the Vild. To observe, to remember, to record only although the fate ofthe galaxys dying stars was intimately interwoven with my own, I took littlepart in seeking out that vast, stellar wasteland known as the Vild, or theWild, or the Inferno, or whatever ominous name that men can attach to such awild and hellish place. This quest to save the stars was to be for others:eminent pilots such as the Sonderval, and Aja, and Alark of Urradeth, and somewho were not yet famous such as Victoria Chu, and my son, Danlo wi SoliRingess. Like all quests called by the Order of Mystic Mathematicians, theSecond Vild Mission had an explicit and formal purpose: to establish a newOrder within the heart of the Vild; to find the lost planet known asTannahill; to establish a mission among the leaders of mans greatest religionand win them to a new vision; and, of course, to stop the man-doomed starsfrom exploding into supernovas. All seekers of the Vild took oaths toward thisend. But as with all human enterprises, there are always purposes insidepurposes. Many attempted the journey outward across the galaxys glitteringstars out of the promise of adventure, mystery, power, or even worldly riches.Many spoke of a new phase in human evolution, of redeeming both past andfuture and fulfilling the ancient prophecies. Altogether, ten thousand womenand men braved the twisted, light-ruined spaces of the Vild, and thus theycarried inside them ten thousand individual hopes and dreams. And the deepestdream of all of them (though few acknowledged this even to themselves) was towrest the secrets of the universe from the wild stars. Their deepest purposewas to heal the universe of its wound, and to this impossible end they pledgedtheir devotion, their energies, their genius, their very lives. On thetwenty-first of false winter in the year 2954 since the founding of Neverness,the Vild Mission began its historic journey across the galaxy. In the black,cold, vacuum spaces above the City of Light (or the City of Pain as Nevernessis sometimes known), in orbit around the planet of Icefall, Lord Nikolos SarPetrosian had called together a fleet of ships. There were ten seedships, eachone the temporary home of a thousand akashics, cetics, programmers, mechanics, Page 1
  2. 2. ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.htmlbiologists, and other professionals of the Order. There were twelve deepshipsas round and fat as artificial moons; the deepships contained the floatingfarms and factories and assemblers that would be needed to establish a secondOrder within the Vild. And, of course, there were the lightships. Their numberwas two hundred and fifty-four. They were the glory of Neverness, thesebright, shining slivers of spun diamond that could pierce the¦ space beneath space and enter the unchartered seas of the manifold wherethere was neither time nor distance nor light. A single pilot guided each lightship,and together the pilots of Vild Mission would lead the seedships and deepshipsacross the stars. To the thousands of Ordermen who had remained behind (and tothe millions of citizens of Neverness safe by the fires of their dwellings),the fleet that Lord Petrosian had assembled must have seemed a grand array ofmen and machines. But against the universe, it was nothing. Upon LordPetrosians signal, the Vild ships vanished into the night, two hundred andseventy-six points of light lost into the billions of lights that were thestars of the Milky Way. Lightships such as the Vivasvat and The Snowy Owl¤fell from star to star, and the mission fleet followed, and they swept acrosstheš Civilized Worlds. And wherever they went, on planets such as Orino orValvare, the manswarms would gather beneath the night skies in hope of bearingwitness to their passing. They would watch the bright, black heavens for thelittle flashes of light released whenever a lightship tore through theshimmering fabric of the manifold. They lived in awe of this light (and indread as well), for the Order had been the soul of the Civilized Worlds for ahundred generations, and now it was dividing in two. Some feared that theOrder might be dividing against itself. No one could know what fate thisfuture might bring. No one could know how a few thousand pilots and pro-fessionals in their fragile ships might cool the fury of the Vild, and so thepeoples of the Civilized Worlds gathered on their star-flung planets to hopeand wonder and pray.¤ There are many peoples on the planets of man. The Civilized Worlds compriseonly a tiny fraction of humanity, and yet there are some four thousand ofthese planets bearing the weight of at least a trillion human beings. Andbearing as well strange peoples who have never been human. The Vild Missionfell from Treya to Teges to Silvaplana, and then on to Fravashing, home ofthat beautiful alien race whose souls are more manlike than that of any man.The lightships led the race among the stellar pathways, falling through themanifold from window to window, passing by the planet of Arcite, where oncethe Order had ruled before its move to Neverness at the beginning of the SixthMentality of Man. None of the pilots sealed inside their ships (not even theyoungest or most inexperienced) had trouble with this part of their journey,for the ancient paths through the manifold had been mapped millennia beforeand were now well known. The pilots passed among the old red stars of theGreater Morbio and on to the Tychos Nebula, where the splendid stars werenewly created of gravity and dust and light. Few human beings dwelt in thesedangerous places, and so only the stars such as Gloriana Luz, all huge andblood-red like a gods blinded eye felt the faint, rippling tremors of thelightships as they tore open windows into the manifold. The stars lit the wayof the Vild Mission, and the pilots steered by the stars, by Alumit andTreblinka and Agni, which burned with a brilliant blue fire and was tenthousand times brighter than Nevernesss cold yellow sun. The whole of theFallaways was on fire, a blazing swathe of fire burning through the galaxyfrom Bellatrix to Stars End. Had the pilots or others of the Order wonderedhow far they had fallen, they might have measured their journey in parsecs ortendays or trillions of miles. Or in light-years. The ships launched fromNeverness fell five thousand light- years along the luminous Sagittarius Armof the galaxy, outward across the great, glittering lens. They passed fromSheydveg to Jonahs Star Far Group to Wakanda, as thus they made the perilouscrossing to the Orion Arm, ten thousand light-years from the star that they Page 2
  3. 3. ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.htmlhad once known as home. Some of the pilots called this flight away from thecore the westering, not because they fell in the direction of universalwest, but because their journey carried them ever outward toward the unknownstars without fixed-points or name. But still they remained within theFallaways, where man was still man and few of the galaxys gods cared to roam. They guidedtheirª lightships away from the August Cluster where the Silicon God was said toclaim a million stars as his own. They fell out among the oldest of humanplanets, Kittery and Vesper, and they avoided the spaces of Earth, lost andlonely Old Earth which men and women were no longer permitted to behold. Andso at last the Mission came to Farfara at the edge of the Vild. Here theFallaways gave out onto the wild, mapless portions of the manifold that hadkilled so many of the Orders pilots. Here the farthest of the CivilizedWorlds stood looking out on the Vilds ruined stars. Farfara was a fat, rich,pleasant world, and it was here that Lord Nikolos Sar Petrosian commanded theMission to make a brief planetfall. He did this so that the ships might takeon fresh stores of coffee, toalache and wine, so that the ten thousand men andwomen of the Order might take a few days of rest beneath the open sky andFarfaras hot blue sun. From the beginning, it had been Lord Nikolos plan tohalt at Farfara while he sent pilots into the Vild to make mappings and find aplanet on which they might make a new home.` It was on the fortieth day of the Missions sojourn on Farfara that one ofthe Orders master pilots returned from the Vild with news of a planetsuitable to their purpose. The$ Cardinal Virtue ¬ the lightship of thegreat pilot known as the Sonderval fell out of the manifold andrendezvoused with the fleet above Farfara. The Sonderval told theprofessionals and pilots of a beautiful planet remarkably similar to OldEarth. As was a pilots right, he had named this planet Thiells in honour ofa woman whom he had once loved and lost when a comet collided with Puakea anddestroyed most of the life on that unfortunate planet. According to theSonderval, Thiells lay inside the inner veil of the Vild, and it could bereached after a journey of only thirty-one fallings. The Sonderval gave thefixed-points of Thiells white star to the other pilots. He told them that hewould lead the way. He also told them told everyone of a new supernovathat he had discovered. It was an old supernova, many hundreds of light-yearsaway. But it had exploded hundreds of years ago, and the wavefront ofradiation and light would soon fall upon Farfara. Lord Nikolos, although hedisapproved of the arrogant, self-loving Sonderval, approved his plan. Hecommanded the professionals of the Order to make ready for the rest of theirjourney. On the night before the Mission would finally enter the tortuousspaces of the Vild the very night that the supernova would light Farfarassky the merchants of Farfara decided to hold a reception to celebrate thepilots bravery. They invited the Orders two hundred and fifty-four pilotsand many important masters from among the professions. They invited musiciansand artists and arhats even warrior-poets as well as princes andambassadors from each of the Civilized Worlds. It would be the grandest partyever held on Farfara, and the mer- chants who ruled that ancient planet sparedno trouble or expense in creating an air of magnificence to match themagnificent hubris of the men and women who dared to enter the Vild.š Late in the Day of the Lion in the eighteenth month of Second Summer in Year24, as the merchants of Farfara measure time, the estate of Mer Tadeo dur liMarar began to fill with people arriving from cities and estates across theplanet. Mer Tadeos estate was laid out over three hills overlooking the IstasRiver, that great sullen river which drains the equatorial mountains of thecontinent called Ayondela. That evening, while the forests and bottomland ofthe Istas River still blazed with the heat of the sun, cool mountain windsfell over Mer Tadeos estate, rippling through the jade trees and the orangegroves, carrying down the scent of the distant glaciers which gleamed an icywhite beneath the nights first stars. Shuttles rocketed back and forth Page 3
  4. 4. ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.htmlbetween Mer Tadeos starfield and the Orders seedships in orbit above theplanet;ž they ferried hundreds of master cetics and mechanics and other masterOrdermen• down to the fountains and music pools that awaited them far below. And then,in a display of the Orders power, a light show of flashing diamond hulls andred rocket fire, the two hundred and fifty-four lightships fell down throughFarfaras atmosphere and came to earth at the mile-wide pentagon at the centreof Mer Tadeos starfield. Although no member of the Order was scorned orignored in any manner, it was the pilots whom the men and women of Farfarawished to fete. In truth, the merchants adulated the pilots. Mer Tadeo himself accompanied by twenty other great merchants from Farfaras greatest estates received the pilots by the Fountain of Fortune on the sculptured grounds infront of his palace. Here, on soft green grasses native to Old Earth, in theloveliest garden on Farfara, the pilots gathered to drink pricelessSummerworld wines and listen to the music pools as they gazed out over thesinuous river. Here they drank each others health, and looked up at theunfamiliar star configurations in the sky, and waited half the night for theSondervals supernova to appear.VIn the Hour of Remembrance (a good hour before the exploding star would fillthe heavens) a pilot stood alone by the marble border of one of the palaceslesser fountains. His name was Danlo wi Soli Ringess; he was a tall, well-madeyoung man, much the youngest pilot or professional to join the Mission. To anyof the merchants, if any had looked his way, he might have seemed lonely orpreoccupied with some great problem of the universe that had never beensolved. His deep-set eyes were grave and full of light as if he could seethings that others could not, or rather, as if the everyday sights of winegoblets and beautifully-dressed women amused him where it caused others onlylust or envy. In truth, he had marvellous eyes, as dark and deep as themidnight sky. The irises were blue-black like liquid jewels, almost blackenough to merge with the bright, black pupils, which gave them a strangeintensity. Much about this pilot was strange and hinted of deep purpose: hisshiny black hair shot with strands of red; the mysterious, lightning-bolt scarcut into his forehead above his left eye; the ease with which he dwelt insidehis silence despite the noise and gaiety all around him. Like a creature ofthe wild he seemed startlingly out of place, and yet he was completelyabsorbed into his surroundings, as a bird is always at home wherever he flies.In truth, with his bold facial bones and long nose, he sometimes seemedutterly wild. A fellow pilot had once accused him of having a fierce andpredatory look, and yet there was always a tenderness about him, an almostinfinite grace. At any party or social gathering, men and women always noticedhim and never left him alone for very long.® Good evening, Danlo, its good to see you again, a voice called outfrom the hundreds in Mer Tadeos garden. Danlo turned away from the fountainand watched a very tall man push through the crowds of brilliantly-dressedpeople and make his way across the flagstones and trampled grasses. Indeed,the master pilot known as the Sonderval was the tallest of men, impossibly andintimidatingly tall. With his thin limbs and eight feet of height, he seemedmore like a giant insect than a man, though in fact had been born an exemplarof Solsken and was therefore by heredity as arrogant as any god; he had beenbred to tall-ness and intelligence much as the courtesans of Jacaranda arebred for beauty. He was dressed in a thin silk pilots robe of purest black,as was Danlo. In a measured and stately manner but quite rapidly, for hisstride was very long he walked up to Danlo and bowed his head. Is theresomething about this fountain that interests you? he asked. I must tell you,Danlo, if you attend a party such as this, you cant hope to avoid themanswarms all night. Though I must say I cant blame you for wanting to avoidthese merchants. Master Pilot, Danlo said. He had a wonderfully melodiousvoice, though cut with Page 4
  5. 5. ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.html¨ the harshness of too many memories and sorrows. With some difficulty therequire-| ments of etiquette demanded that he should always keep his eyes on theSondervals scornful eyes high above his head he returned the Sondervalsbow. I do not want . . . to avoid anyone.>Is that why you stand alone by thisÒ fountain? Danlo turned back to the fountain to watch the lovelyparabolas of water spraying up into the cool night air. The water dropletscaught the light of the many flame globes illuminating the garden; the tens ofthousands of individual droplets sparkled in colours of silver and violet andgolden blue, and then fell splashing back into the waters of the fountain.Most of the gardens fountains, as he saw, were filled with fine wines orliquid toalache or other rare drugs that might be drunk. The merchants ofFarfara delighted in sitting by these fountains as they laughed a gaudy,raucous laughter and plunged their goblets into the dark red pools, orsometimes, in displays of greed that shocked the Orders staid academicians,plunged their entire bodies into the fountains and stood open-mouthed as theylet streams of wine run down their clutching throats.¾With a quick smile, Danlo looked up at the Sonderval and said, I have alwaysloved the water.4 For drinking or bathing? the Sonderval asked. For listening to, Danlosaid. For watching. Water is full of memories, yes? That evening, as Danlostood by the fountain and looked out over the river Istas all silver andswollen in the light of the blazing Vild stars, he lost himself in memories ofa colder sky he had known as a child years ago. Although he was onlytwenty-two years old which is much too young to look backward upon thedisasters of the past instead of forward into the glorious and golden futurehe couldnt help remembering the death of his people, the blessed Devaki, whohad all fallen to a mysterious disease made by the hand of man. He couldnthelp remembering his journey to Neverness, where, against all chance, he hadbecome a pilot of the Order and won the black dia- mond pilots ring that hewore on the little finger of his right hand. He couldnt keep away thesememories of his youth because he was afflicted (and blessed) with memory, muchas a heavy stone is with gravity, as a blue giant star is suffused with fireand light. In every man and woman there are three phases of life moredescriptive of the souls inner journey than are childhood, maturity and oldage: It cant happen to me; I can overcome it; I accept it. It was Danlosfate that although he had passed through these first two phases much morequickly than anyone should, he had nevertheless failed to find the way towardaffirmation that all men seek. And yet, despite the horrors of his childhood,despite betrayals and hurts and wounds and the loss of the woman he had loved,there was something vibrant and mysterious about him, as if he had madepromises to himself and had a secret covenant with life. Perhaps you remembertoo much, the Sonderval said. Like your father. My father, Danlo said. Hepointed east out over the Istas, over the mountains where the first of theVild stars were rising. As the night deepened, the planet of Farfara turnedinexorably on its axis, and so turned its face to the outward reaches of thegalaxy beyond the brilliant Orion Arm. Soon the entire sky would be a windowto the Vild. Blue and white stars such as Yachne and the Plessis twinkledagainst the black stain of night, and soon the supernovas would appear, theold, weak, distant supernovas whose light shone less brightly than any ofNevernesss six moons. It was a mistake, Danlo thought, to imagine the Vild asnothing more than a vast wasteland of exploding stars. Among the millions ofVild stars, there were really only a few supernovas. A few hundred or a fewhundred thousand the greatest uncertainty of the Mission was that no onereally knew the size or the true nature of the Vild. My® father, Danlo said again, was one of the first pilots to penetrate theVild. And now you, sir.† With his long, thin finger, the Sonderval touched his long upper lip. He Page 5
  6. 6. ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.htmlsaid, I must remind you that youre a full pilot now. Its not necessary foryou to address every master pilot as "sir".4 But I do not address everyone that way. Only those who have penetratedthe Vild? No, Danlo said, and he smiled. Only those whom I cannot helpcalling "sir". This compliment of Danlos seemed to please the Sonderval, whohad a vast opinion of his value as a human being. So vast was his sense ofhimself that he looked down upon almost everyone as his inferior and wastherefore wont to disregard others compliments as worthless. It was a measureof his respect for Danlo that he did not dismiss his words, but ratherfavoured him with a rare smile and bow of his head. Of course you may call me"sir" if it pleases you. Did you know my father well, sir? We were journeymen together at Resa. We took our pilots vows together. Wefought in the war together. I knew him as well as I care to know any man. Hewas just a man, you know, despite what everyone says. Then you do notbelieve . . . that he became a god? A god ,j the Sonderval said.No, I dont want to believe in such fables. You must know that I discovered aso-called god not very long ago when I made my journey to the eighteenth DevaCluster. A dead god it was bigger than East Moon and made of diamondneurologics. A god, a huge computer of diamond circuitry. The gods are nothingmore than sophisticated computers. Or the grafting of a computer onto the mindof man, the interface between man and computers. Few will admit this, but itsso. Mallory Ringess journeyed to Agathange and carked his brain, replaced halfthe neurons with protein neurologics. Your father did this. Does this make hima god? If so, then Im a god, too. Any of us, the few pilots who have reallymastered a lightship. Whenever I face my ship-computer, when the stars fallinto my eyes and the whole galaxy is mine, Im as godly as any god. For awhile Danlo listened to the water falling into the fountain, the humming andclick of the evening insects, the low roar of a thousand human voices. Then helooked at the Sonderval and said, Who can know what it is to be a god? Can acomputer be a god . . . truly? I think my father is something other. Somethingmore. What, then?ÒHe discovered the Elder Eddas. Inside himself, the deep memories he founda way of listening to them.2The wisdom of the gods? Perhaps.ÄThe memories of the Ieldra and other gods written into human DNA? Theso-called racial memories?Ò Some would characterize the Eddas thus, sir. Danlo smiled, then continued,But the Eddas, too, are something other, something more. Oh, yes, theSonderval said. The secret of life. The secret of the universe, and MalloryRingess whom I used to tutor in topology, whom I used to beat at chess ninegames out of ten, was clever enough to discover it. Danlo suddenly cupped hishand and dipped it into the fountain. He brought his hand up to his lips,taking a quick drink of water. And then another. The water was cool and good,and he drank deeply. But, sir, he finally said, what of the Timekeepersquest? My father and you were seekers together, yes? The Sonderval shot Danloa cold, suspicious look and said, Its true, two years° before you were born, the Timekeeper called his quest. I, your father, wepilots fellœ across half the galaxy from Neverness to the Helvorgorsee seeking theso-called Elder Eddas. This Holy Grail that everyone believed in. TheEschaton, the transcendental object at the end of time. But I could neverbelieve in such myths. But, sir, the Eddas arent myths to believe in. TheEddas are memories . . . to be remembered.À So its been said. I must tell you that I tried to remember them once. Thiswas after the Timekeepers fall, when your father first announced that thequest had been fulfilled. Because I was curious, I engaged the services of aremembrancer and drank the kalla drug that they use to unfold the memorysequences. And there was nothing. Nothing but my own memories, the memories ofmyself. But others have had . . . other memories. Myths about themselves Page 6
  7. 7. ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.htmlthat they extend into universals and believe are true. Danlo slowly tookanother drink of water. Then he slowly shook his head. No, not myths, sir.ø The Sonderval stood stiff as a tree above Danlo, looking down at him for along time. I must tell you that there is no kind of mental accomplishmentthat has ever eluded me. If the Elder Eddas exist as memory, I would have beenable to remember them. To remembrance deeply . . . is hard, Danlo said. The hardest thing in theuniverse. Ive heard a rumour that you drank the kalla, too. That you fellinto a so-called great remembrance. Perhaps you should have become aremembrancer instead of a pilot.´I have . . . lost the talent for remembrancing, Danlo said. I am just apilot, now. A Page 7
  8. 8. ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.html pilot¸ must pilot and fall among the stars, or else he is nothing. Ijourneyed to Neverness so that I might become a pilot. The Sonderval sighedand ran his fingers through his golden hair. He said, These last years Ivebeen away from Neverness much too much. But Ive taken notice of what hashappened there. I cant say Im pleased. Mallory Ringess is proclaimed a god,and his best friend founds a church to worship his godhood. And his son joinsthis church, this "Way of Ringess", as its called. And suddenly half ofNeverness is attempting to remembrance the Elder Eddas and cark themselvesinto gods. But I have left the Way, Danlo said. I have never wanted tobecome . . . a god. Then you do not seek the Elder Eddas? Danlo looked down into the water and said, No, not any more. But yourestill a seeker, arent you? I . . . have taken a vow to go to the Vild,Danlo said. I have pledged my life toward the fulfilment of the new quest.The Sonderval waved his hand as if to slap an insect away from his face. Inthe end, all quests are really the same. What matters is that pilots such asyou and I may distinguish ourselves in seeking; what matters not at all isthat which is sought. You speak as if there is little hope of stopping thesupernovas. Perhaps there might have been more hope if I had been chosenLord of the Mission instead of Lord Nikolos. But in the end it doesnt matter.Stars will die, and people will die, too. But do you really think itspossible that our kind could destroy the entire galaxy?n With his fingers, Danlo pressed the scar over his left eye, trying to ridhimself of the fierce head pain that often afflicted him. After a long time ofconsidering the Sondervals words, he said, I believe that what we do ...does matter. That is because you are young and still full of passion.Perhaps.¤I have heard, the Sonderval said, that you have your own reason forseeking the<Vild. Your own private quest.N Danlo pressed harder against his forehead before saying, Long before theArchitects began destroying the stars, they destroyed each other. In the Warof the Faces you must know this, yes? The Architects made a virus to killeach other. This virus that killed my people. I would seek the planet theycall Tannahill and hope that the Architects might know of a cure for thisdisease. I have heard that there is no cure.$ There . . . must be. Danlo scooped up a handful of water and held itagainst his eye. The water slowly leaked away from the gap between the palm ofhis hand and his cheek and then fell back into the fountain. Your fatheralways believed in miracles, too. Danlo stood away from the fountain, then,and pointed up at the sky. My father, it is said, always hoped to save thestars. He is out there, somewhere, perhaps lost around some doomed star. Thisis why he went to the Vild. He always dreamed that the universe could behealed of its wound. Your father, when I knew him, could not even healhimself of his own wound. He was always a tormented man.¨Truly? Then perhaps some wounds can never be healed. But you dont believethat?8Danlo smiled and said, No.P Is it your intention, Pilot, to try to find your father? Danlo listened tothe sound of the water falling into the fountain and asked, How could I justabandon him? Then you have your own quest within the quest? As you say, sir, allquests are really the same. The Sonderval came up close to Danlo and pointedup at the sky. The stars of the Vild are nearly impenetrable. How could youhope to find one man among a billion stars?ÊI ... do not know, Danlo said. But I have dreamed that in the Vild, allthings would be possible.ÜAt this, the Sonderval quietly shook his head. Look at the stars, Pilot.Have you ever seen such wild stars? Page 8
  9. 9. ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.html Danlo looked up along the line made by the Sondervals arm and his long,pointing finger. He looked up past the orange trees and the fountains and theice-capped peaks. Now it was full night, and the sky was ablaze from horizonto horizon. Now, among the strange constellations and nameless stars, therewere half a hundred supernova, great blisters of hot white light breakingthrough the universes blackness. For a long time, Danlo thought about theorigins of these ruined stars, and he said, But sir, who knows what the Vildreally is? We cannot see the stars, not ... truly. All these stars, all thisstarlight it was made so long ago.ˆ Low over the horizon, in the cleft between two double supernova that Danlothought of as the Two Friends, he saw a bit of starlight that he recognized.It was light from the Owl Cluster of galaxies some fifty million light-yearsaway. Fifty million years ago this light had begun its journey across theuniverse to break through the heavens above Farfara and find its home withinthe depths of Danlos eyes. It was the strangest thing, he thought, that tolook across space was to look back through time. He could see the Owl Clusteronly as it existed long ago, some forty-eight million years before the rise ofman. He wondered if perhaps these galaxies had long since been annihilated bychains of supernovas or the workings of some terrible alien god. He wonderedabout his own galaxy. Did Vishnu Luz still burn like a signpost in¨ the night? Or Silvaplana, or Agni, or any of the thousands of nearer starsthat the Mission had passed on its way to the Vild? Perhaps, even as he stood by thislittle fountain more than ten thousand light-years from his home, the Star ofNeverness had somehow exploded into a brilliant sphere of light and death. Itwas always impossible to be sure of what one might see. All things, even thenearest and most apprehensible. It amused Danlo to think that if theSonderval, standing three feet away, were suddenly to wink out of existence,the light of this unfortunate event would take at least three billionths of asecond to reach his eyes. Danlo turned facing the Sonderval and said, This isthe problem, yes? It is impossible to see the universe just as it. Youre astrange man, the Sonderval said, and he smiled to himself. Thank you, sir.dI must tell you that the Vild really exists. Ive beenê there, after all. Ive seen the light of a new supernova and in lessthan an hour, youll see it, too. Right . . . Page 9
  10. 10. ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.html therej . So saying, the Sonderval pointed to a patch of sky due east andsome thirty degrees above the horizon. The faint stars clustered there had noname that Danlo knew. Per- haps, Danlo thought, the Sondervals calculationshad been wrong, and the supernovas light would not reach Farfara for manydays. Or perhaps the supernova would appear at the appointed time, only toprove much more intense than anyone had anticipated. Perhaps the light fromthis dead, unseen star would burn the eyes of anyone who looked toward thesky; perhaps it would burn human flesh and kill the thousands of people in thegarden. In the time that it took for Danlos heart to beat some three thousandmore times, he might very well be dead, and yet, as he looked out over all theapprehensive people standing around the gardens numerous fountains, as heturned his face to the brilliant sky, he couldnt help feeling that it was abeautiful night in which to be alive. For a while, Danlo and the Sonderval stood there talking about the way theVild stars distorted spacetime and twisted the pathways through the manifold,and other things that pilots talk about. Then the Sonderval admitted that LordNikolos had sent him to fetch Danlo, or rather, to invite him to a gatheringof all the pilots in front of the gardens main fountain. It seemed that MerTadeo, just before the supernova appeared, wished to honour the pilots withtoast of rare Yarkonan firewine. I must tell you that Mer Tadeo has asked tomeet you, the Sonderval said. Lord Nikolos will make the presentation.Please remember that although Mer Tadeo practi- cally rules this world, youare a pilot of the Order. Anyone can rule a world, but only a few are born tobe pilots.ð The Sonderval nodded at Danlo, and together they walked through thegarden. Danlo liked almost everything about the garden, especially the littlebonsai trees and the cascades of strange, beautiful flowers. The air was sosweet with their scent that it almost hurt him to breathe. In truth, he lovedthe many smells of the night, the fruity, acid spray of the various winesbubbling from the fountains; the orange trees; the far faintness of ice; eventhe char of insects roasting in beams of laser light. All across the neatgreen lawns, mounted high on marble pillars, there were many computer eyes andlasers that targeted any noxious or biting insect that might chance to enterthe garden. At any moment, quick beams of ruby light played this way and that,fairly hissing through the air and instantly crisping the various mosquitoes,gnats, and grass flies so despised by the Farfara merchants. Naturally, thisfrivolous (and showy) use of lasers disturbed some of the Ordersprofessionals, who seemed anxious and wary lest they step carelessly and alaser drilled a red, sizzling hole through hand, neck or face. It disturbedeven the many ambassadors and diplomats long used to such barbarisms. But, inthe two thousand years that Mer Tadeos family had owned this˜ estate, the lasers had never hurt any human being. Mer Tadeo employed these forbidden weapons only because he liked to infuse his parties with a certainfrisson of dangerous possibilities. He liked to surround himself withcolourful, uncommon people, and so that night he had invited an arhat fromNewvannia, a famous neurosinger, a renegade pilot of the Order named Sivan wiMawi Sarkissian, and even five warrior-poets recently arrived from the planetQallar. As Danlo pushed further into the garden, through swarms of men andwomen sipping their wine and stealing quick glances at the uncertain stars, hesensed an aura of intrigue and even menace in the air. He felt the eyes ofpeople watching him, judging him. He was certain that someone was followinghim across the garden. True, he was a pilot of the Order, and the blackness ofhis formal robe attracted many stares where the cobalt or orange or scarletrobes of the Orders academicians did not. True, he walked behind theSonderval, who was also a pilot as well as the tallest human being on MerTadeos estate, possibly on the entire planet. A pilot had to inure himself tosuch curiosity unless he wished to remain only in the company of other pilots.But Danlo could never get used to popularity or fame, and he hoped thatwhoever was following him would announce himself either that or turn hisattentions to one of the beautifully- dressed merchants who stood about on the Page 10
  11. 11. ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.htmlcool green lawns like so many thousands of flowers waiting to be appreciatedor plucked. At last they drew near Mer Tadeos main fountain, the so-calledFountain of Fortune, a glorious pool of marble and gold. From the mouths ofvarious statues glittnings and rohins and other alien creatures set uponthe different levels of a golden terrace at the fountains centre Yarkonanfirewine burst into the air in jets of frothy red. On Neverness, a singlebottle of firewine can cost as much as a pearl necklace or a years pleasurewith a courtesan, and so many of the Order have never tasted this uncommonwine. Surrounding the fountain were rings of the Orders academicians, cantorsand scryers and remembrancers, holists and horologes and historians. They weredressed in bright robes of many colours, saffron or rose or indigo, and theyfairly swarmed the pool in their eagerness to fill their goblets and sip sucha delightful wine. There were pilots, as well, two hundred and fifty-twoblack-robed pilots who were the soul of the Order. Danlo knew all of them, byface or name or reputation. He saw Paloma the Younger, and Matteth Jons, andAlark of Urradeth. And standing nearby with a cup of wine in his hands wasRichardess, a fragile-faced wisp of a man who was the only pilot ever to havesurvived the spaces of Chimene and the April Colonial Intelligence. They wereall of an age with the Sonderval, and they had all fought with Mallory Ringessin the Pilots War twenty years previously. The Vild Mission would be thesecond great quest of their lives, and it pleased them to be joined by pilotsof greater enthusiasm and passion, young pilots such as Ivar Rey and LaraJesusa and Danlo wi Soli Ringess. That evening, most of the Missions pilotswere gathered together near the southern quadrant of the fountain. There, too,was Nikolos Sar Petrosian, the Lord Akashic and Lord of the Mission. He was asmall, sober, intelligent man who wore an akashics yellow robe upon his plumpbody and a look of impatience about his clear, blue eyes. When he saw theSonderval leading Danlo his way he bowed to them, then said, somewhat dryly,I was afraid that you had become lost. I suppose its easy enough for a Page 11
  12. 12. ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.html pilotP to lose himself on such a huge estate.Ø This sarcasm of Lord Nikolos had no effect on the Sonderval. Just as hecared little for the compliments of others, he dismissed their criticisms justas easily. He stood silently next to Danlo, looking down on little LordNikolos, apparently staring straight at the bald patch on the crown of LordNikolos head. The Sonderval smiled to himself, but said nothing.œDanlo, Im glad youve been found, Lord Nikolos finally said. Danlo wiSoli Ringess, may I present Mer Tadeo dur li Marar? Mer Tadeo has asked if hemight meet you before the evenings entertainment begins. Standing next toLord Nikolos was a handsome, elegant man with quick brown eyes and therapacious look of an ivory gull. Mer Tadeo dur li Marar wore a red kimono ofJapanese silk, which rather nicely set off his smooth olive skin. He bowed toDanlo, quite properly and looked at Danlo quickly, intensely, as he mightappraise a diamond or a firestone. Then he announced, Its an honour to meetyou, Pilot. Danlo returned his bow, then nodded at the circle of curiouspeople surrounding Mer Tadeo. These were mostly merchants in their fabulouskimonos and jewels but included also a neurosinger named Omar Noy and MerTadeos ninth wife, a rather sullen-looking woman whom he introduced as MerMarlena Eva dur li Karillon. There were two ambassadors, as well, Kagami Itoof Yarkona, and Valentina Morven of the planet known as Clarity. And others.Danlo bowed to each of them in turn, inclining his head as each of their nameswas spoken. The presentations having been made, Mer Tadeo motioned for Danloto come nearer, and said, Ive made the acquaintance of all the pilots butyourself. Im honoured that you could attend this reception. Its rare forpilots of the Order to visit our world, you know. Danlo smiled and lookedacross the fountain. There, some thirty yards further across the lawn, was alow retaining wall of cut stone. On the other side of the wall, Mer Tadeosestate gave out onto a cliff face high above the gleaming Istas River and thedark hills beyond. Your world is very beautiful, Danlo said. Perhaps ifmore pilots knew of its beauty, we would not neglect it so. I was afraid youmight find my estate somewhat wanner than you might be used to, Mer Tadeosaid. He seemed very pleased with Danlo. Unlike the Sonderval, he devouredcompliments as a child might chocolate candies. Ive heard Neverness is socold that it never rains.r Danlo smiled and said, On all the nights of my life, this is the first timeIve stood outside and there has been no sign of snow. Not even thepossibility . . . that snow might fall. At this, Mer Tadeo shook his head in wonder, and in pity, too. Then he said,During this part of Second Summer, at night, there will be nothing butstarlight to fall upon us. This is why my ancestors built their estate here.They loved looking at the stars.ø For a while Mer Tadeo and Danlo stood among a crowd of curious people,talking of little things. Then as quickly as an assassin might slip a knife inthe dark, Mer Tadeo smiled at Danlo and said, Ive been told that youre theson of Mallory Ringess.JYes . . . that is true, Danlo said.ÈIve also been told that there is a new religion in Neverness. The Way ofRingess is that right?öDanlo nodded his head warily. That also is true. Do the Ringists reallyteach that Mallory Ringess became a god? Yes.ø And that all human beings can become gods, too? And that the path towardgodhood is in communion with this mystical knowledge called the Elder Eddas?You are well informed, Mer Tadeo. You have just stated the Three Pillars ofRingism, did you know?ö Mer Tadeo took a step closer to Danlo. As if a signal had been given, MerTadeos wife and the two ambassadors stepped closer, too, the better to hearwords that might prove important to their lives. And then many others closedin like wolves around a Page 12
  13. 13. ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.html– wounded lamb, and Danlo suddenly found himself surrounded by men and women(whom he hardly knew.æ We know that your Order is said to take this religion seriously, Mer Tadeotold him. We know that many lords and masters have even converted and nowcall themselves Ringists. The lords and masters of Neverness! We hadntthought you Ordermen capable of such religiousness. Anyone can fall intoworship, Danlo said softly. Anyone can dream . . . of becoming a god.’ For a while, Mer Tadeo and Mer Marlena Eva asked Danlo questions about theWay of Ringess, about its origins, beliefs, and ceremonies. They wanted toknow more about the remembrancing ceremony, the way Ringists used computers tostimulate the remembrance of the Elder Eddas. They seemed intensely curious,not in the manner of an eschatologist or an historian, but in another way thatspoke of secret sufferings and strange, ancient longings. Lord Nikolos,obviously, did not like the turn of this conversation, for he pushed up besideDanlo and said, Its unwise to exaggerate the importance of this religion. Todo so will only give it real importance. Lord Nikolos, as Danlo knew, alwaysdetested any talk about gods or God. He mistrusted the religious impulse muchas the Perfect of Gehenna loathe water, as a snowworm avoids sunlight.6 May I ask you then, Lord Nikolos, if your mission will spread this creed ofRingism among the peoples of the Vild? This question came from Kagami Ito,the Yarkonan ambassador. Kagami, a suspicious old man, was dressed in a babrijacket much too thick for the warmth of the night. His round face was shonewith sweat, and he seemed tired and crabby. Long ago, in his first old age, hehad been an ambassador to Neverness before the Timekeeper had tired of histesty manner and had banished him from the City. We would all like to know ifyou of the Vild Mission are still pilots and professionals of the Order, orwhether youve become mere missionaries after all.ø This question offended Lord Nikolos, who pointed a pudgy finger at Kagami,and said, Our mission is to the Architects of the Infinite Intelligence ofthe Cybernetic Universal Church, to reason with them. To journey among theirworlds, to learn why they believe as they do so that we may illuminate them.To begin a new Order in the Vild. We are anti-religious, all of us. If youmust, you may think of us as anti- missionaries whose quest it is to reversethe insane doctrines of an insane old church. Danlo smiled at this tirade,but said nothing. Then Lord Nikolos, in his dry, academicians voice, went onto explain that the Architects of the Old Church were destroying the starsbecause their Doctrine of Second Creation required them to participate in theremaking of the galaxy, and ultimately, at the end of time, of the veryuniverse itself. Although Lord Nikolos was a soft, ill-disciplined man in hisbody, he spoke with steely resolve and an enormous will to correct the evilsand excesses of the human race. In his own way, he was as fanatical as anyArchitect or true believer, only his was a fanaticism of logic and reason, andcold, clear thought. Despite the Sondervals misgivings, he was the idealchoice as Lord of the Mission because he understood the Architects as only atrue enemy can. Then I must wish you well on your Mission, Kagami Ito said.All of us, any who live on any of the Civilized Worlds we wish you well.Lord Nikolos bowed a shade too low and said, Your wishes are well received.We mustœ wish you well, Kagami Ito repeated. Once again, we of the CivilizedWorlds must be saved by you of the Order. At this, the Sonderval steppedforward and said, Perhaps you would rather save yourselves?œAnd so we would do if we had lightships of our own and pilots to pilotthem.˜ The Order has never stopped anyone from building lightships. Nor have youshared your knowledge of this technology. The Sonderval shrugged hisshoulders and said, Well, anyone can build a lightship.2 But not anyone can pilot one isnt that right, Master Pilot? Its adifficult art, the Sonderval agreed. One must have a passion formathematics. Page 13
  14. 14. ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.htmlÆIs it so difficult that the Orders pilots have kept their art a secret forthree thousand years? This is not true, the Sonderval said. What of the Merchant-Pilots ofTria? You know theyre unworthy to be called "pilots". We pilots ,Š theSonderval said, train youths from every world. Yes, you bring ourX youthsto Neverness and make them pilots of yourb Order. And then make them take vows of secrecy.´But how not? Some secrets may be heard by only those with the genius tounderstand them.d Page 14
  15. 15. ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.htmlAfter an awkward silence, Mer Tadeo stepped between Kagami Ito and theSonderval. He clapped his hands softly and spoke soft, soothing words toflatter both men. He cited Kagami Itos lifetime efforts to form alliancesamong the Civilized Worlds, and he extolled the valour of Mallory Ringess andthe Sonderval and other pilots who had joined in the quest for the ElderEddas. He turned to praise Danlo and the younger pilots who would face theVild. In many ways, he was much more a conciliator and diplomat than anydiplomat. As many merchants do, he valued peace as the greatest good; aboveall institutions or powers (even above the power of money), he valued theOrder because it had brought a fundamental unity and vision to the CivilizedWorlds for three thousand years. These are difficult times, Mer Tadeo saidto Lord Nikolos. It seems that the Civilized Worlds are caught between tworeligions. From without, the Architects destroy the stars, and every year theVild grows larger. And from within, there is this new religion called Ringism.Even as we speak, every lightship leaving Neverness must bear the news of thisreligion to every star, every world. You, of the Order, even if you are notmissionaries, even if you do not wish it so you must be bearers of this newideal. Every man and woman may become a god! This is a powerful idea, no? Idont think its possible to exaggerate its importance. Religion has been thegenius and doom of humanity almost forever. It may be that this Way of Ringesswill consume us long before the Vild destroys any of our worlds.L Mer Tadeos greatest fear as it must have been the fear of Mer MarlenaEva and Kagami Ito and almost every man and woman in the garden was thatthe Order was dying. At the least, the Order was dividing into two halves, thebest half (as he said) going to the Vild while the Old Order remained inNeverness. If the Order divides against itself, Mer Tadeo asked softly,what will become of our glorious civilization? Lord Nikolos faced Mer Tadeo in his open, reasonable way, and he said, Ourmission is to establish a new Order in the Vild. We shall be far fromNeverness. But twenty years ago, far from Neverness, Mallory Ringess led apack of lightships out into the galaxy. He divided the pilots againstthemselves, and there was war. But Mallory Ringess has disappeared, LordNikolos observed. Perhaps he is dead. At this, Danlo drew in a breath of airand slowly let it out. He stood very still, letting his eyes move back andforth between Mer Tadeo and Lord Nikolos. Mer Tadeo nodded his head. Perhaps.But the idea of Mallory Ringess is very´ much alive. The ideal. Its our fear that with the Order weakened, thisideal will divideZthe Civilized Worlds. And then there would be realŠ war. War such as weve never seen since the Holocaust on Old Earth.¸ Although Lord Nikolos must have dismissed Mer Tadeos fears asimprobabilities and useless speculation, others did not. Kagami Ito andValentina Morven and various merchants near them stood about discussing theWar of the Faces and other wars that had left their mark on the CivilizedWorlds. And then Mer Tadeo glanced down at a little colour clock set into thegold ring that he wore around his little finger. Quite abruptly, he clappedhis hands and announced, Pilots and Professionals, Ambassadors and HonouredGuests its nearly time. If you would fill your cups I would like topresent a toast.( Just then, from across the lawns of Mer Tadeos estate, the music poolsceased playing their wonderful melodies and began booming out a huge sound asif they were nothing more than liquid, golden gongs. The cool air reverberatedwith this sound, and ten thousand people, all at once, looked eastward up intothe sky. Then they began to crowd the various fountains in their haste to filltheir wine goblets. Kagami Ito, the Sonderval, and the others near Danlo beganto melt into the crowd, surging toward the Fountain of Fortune. In moments hewas surrounded by people whom he did not know. Caught in this crush of bodieswere servants carrying platters of food: cultured meats and cakes and fairyfood, chillies and cheeses and cold vegetable compotes and the hundreds ofexotic fruits for which Farfara is justly famous. Most of these servants, he Page 15
  16. 16. ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.htmlsaw, had red hair and fair skin and pale, blue eyes. They had been recruitedon Thorskalle and brought to Farfara to serve the wealthier merchants. Ofcourse, all the native-born of Farfara are merchants, but few live on estates,and fewer still in palaces as grand as Mer Tadeos. Many thousands of yearsearlier, during the First Wave of the Swarming, Farfara had been founded as aplanetary corporation, each of its citizens holding an equal number of sharesin the wealth of the planet: the computers, robots, and the information poolsthat they used to get their living from the rich, untouched lands. Over themillennia, numerous people for numerous reasons had sold their shares for toolittle recompense, and their reduced children had done the same. And theirchildrens children. By the time Mer Tadeos ancestors had built the Mararestate, perhaps nine tenths of the planets wealth had concentrated in thehands of the Hundred Families. By law, no merchant was permitted to sell ormortgage all of his (or her) shares, and so even the poorest people retained afixed minimum ownership of the planet Farfara. This entitled the manswarms tolive in the tent cities along the banks of the Istas River, or in huts in themountains, or in tiny clary domes on the mud plains of Farfaras threecontinents where once there had been lush green forests; it entitled them todrugs and the use of brain machines to distract their souls; it entitled themto clothing and the bowls of yellow amaranth with which they nourished theirbodies but little more. Even the poorest of the poor, however, still tookpride in being shareholders, and they would not suffer themselves to serve onany of the Hundred Estates. And so Mer Tadeo and other merchants of his classsent to Thorskalle for their servants. They paid them not with planetaryshares, but with money, so much money that each servant would return toThorskalle rich enough to live like a prince and hire servants of his own. Itmight be thought that these fortunate youths none was older than Danlowould be grateful for such a chance, but they were not. In fact, they seemedresentful and sul- len. With their frigid eyes they cast evil looks at anymerchant so bold as to ask for a plate of pepper nuts or a mug of coffee. Nowthat Mer Tadeo had called for a toast, many of the servants bore trays ofcrystal wine glasses, which they took care to breathe on or smudge with theirfingerprints before slapping them into the merchants¢ outstretched hands. After Danlo had finally received his goblet, he made hiswayÊ toward the fountains western quadrant where the crowd was the thinnest. Andthen, among the smells of flowers and wine, silk and sweat, he smelled theterrible quick essence of kana oil perfume. It was a smell with which he wasutterly familiar. As if he were an animal in a dark forest, he froze intomotionlessness and let the swarms of people push past him. He sniffed at theair, turning his head left and right. The scent of kana oil seemed strongestnorthward, upwind in the direction of Istas River. He drank in this memorablescent, letting the cool evening air fill his nostrils. He turned away from thefountain, then, and began moving toward the retaining wall at the edge of MerTadeos estate. Almost immediately, as the crowd thinned out, he saw a manstanding alone by the wall. He was a warrior-poet dressed in an evening shirtand silk cloak of a hundred shimmering colours. And he reeked of kana oil; allwarrior-poets, Danlo remembered, wore kana oil perfumes to quicken the urgetoward life and death. Hello, Danlo called out as he approached thewarrior-poet. I think you have been watching me, yes?À The warrior-poet was leaning against the stone wall, easily, almostlanguidly, and he smiled at Danlo in greeting. In his left hand he held agoblet full of wine; and the little finger of that hand bore a ring of fieryred. Astonishingly, a similar ring encircled the little finger of his righthand, which he held near the fold of his cloak as if he were ready at anymoment to reach inside a secret pocket and remove a poison needle, or a drugdart, or the long, terrible, killing knife that warrior-poets always carryabout their persons. You are Danlo wi Soli Ringess, the warrior-poet said.He had a marvellous voice, strangely peaceful and full of an utter certainty.May I present myself? Im called Malaclypse Redring, of Qallar. Danlo bowed, Page 16
  17. 17. ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.htmlas he should, and Malaclypse stood away from the wall and returned his bow,gracefully, with impeccable control. For the count of nine of Danlos heart-beats, Malaclypse Redring stood there looking at him. The warrior-poet seemedsuperbly calm, almost preternaturally calm, like a man who has magicallytransformed himself into a tiger and fears no other animal, especially notman. In truth, he had the look of some godly being far beyond man: impossiblywise, impossibly aware of himself, of Danlo, of all the people and plantsand things in the garden. Once before, Danlo had met a warrior-poet;physically, with his terrible quick body and beautiful face, Malaclypse mighthave been the other poets twin, for all warrior-poets are cut from the samechromosomes. But there was something different about Malaclypse, an otherness,an impossible aliveness, perhaps even a greatness of soul. With his shinyblack hair showing white around the temples, he was at least fifteen yearsolder than Danlo, which is old for a warrior-poet. Then, too, there was thematter of his rings. An exceptional warrior-poet might wear the red ringaround the little finger of either hand. But no warrior-poet in all history,as far as Danlo knew, had ever worn two red rings. Why have you been following me? Danlo finally asked. Malaclypse smilednicely; he had a beautiful smile that spread out over the golden lines of hisface. But as you see, I havent been following you here I standappreciating this fine view, these strange, alien stars. Its you who havefollowed me. And thats very strange, dont you think? Most men flee our kindrather than seeking us out.F It seems to be my fate . . . to seek out warrior-poets. A strange fate,Malaclypse said. It would seem more natural for me to seek you. To seek me... why?"You dont know?PI do not know . . . if I want to know. Malaclypse held his wine goblet up to his nose and inhaled deeply. He said,OnÖ Qallar, youre famous. For two reasons. Youre one of the few ever to havedefeated a warrior-poet and the only one to have done so as a boy. I wassixteen when I met Marek in the library. I did not think of myself . . . as aboy. Still, a remarkable feat. If only you had been born on Qallar, you mighthave become warrior among warriors, a poet among poets. At this startlingthought, Danlo looked straight at Malaclypse. He looked deep into hismarvellous, violet eyes, which were so dark that he could almost see hisreflection gleaming in their black centres. I could never have become . . . awarrior-poet, he said.No? Danlo let this question hang in the air, even as the gong-ing sound of MerTadeos music pools hung low and urgent over the lawns and fountains of thegarden. He kept his eyes on Malaclypses eyes, and he said, Have you comehere tonight to avenge Mareks death, then?HYou ask this question so blithely.2How should I ask, then?¨Most men would not ask at all. They would flee. Why arent you afraid of ourkind?(I ... do not know.š Its the greatest gift, not to fear, Malaclypse said. But, of course, youneednt have feared that we would avenge Marek. He died according to ourforms, which we thank you for observing so impeccably.8I did not want him to die.z And that is the most remarkable thing of all. Its said that you have takena vow of ahimsa to harm no living thing and yet you were able to help Marekon to his moment of the possible.Š Danlo remembered too well how Marek of Qallar had plunged his killing knifeinto his own brain and so reached his moment of the possible, where life is Page 17
  18. 18. ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.htmldeath, and death is life. He remembered that Marek, just before he hadaccomplished this noble act, had confessed that the warrior-poets had a newrule for their bloody order: to kill all gods, even all women and men whomight become as gods. For six years, Danlo had shared this secret with onlytwo other people, but now he said, I know why Marek came to Neverness. Thetrue reason. He told me about your rule before he died.| Malaclypse smiled at this piece of news, which strangely seemed not tosurprise him. Ive said that youre famous on my world for two reasons. Thesecond reason, of course, is because youre the son of Mallory Ringess. Marekwas sent to Neverness to determine if youre truly the son of the father. AmI, then?"Dont you know? How . . . Page 18
  19. 19. ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.html would I know?d At this, Malaclypse laughed easily, and to Danlo he said, Ive heard thatyoure also famous for answering questions with questions. Danlo inclined hishead, slightly, accepting Malaclypses criticism as a compliment. Then hesaid, You have come to Farfara to complete this determination about me, yes?ú Again, as he often did, Danlo began to count his heartbeats, and he waitedfor Malaclypse to remove his killing knife from his cloak. But Malaclypse onlylooked at him, strangely, deeply, drinking in the wild look that filledDanlos eyes like an ocean. I dont know who† you really are, Malaclypse said. Not yet. In truth, Idont knowôwho your father really is, either. Mallory Ringess, this once Lord Pilot ofthe Order who everyone says has become a god.ÖFor a moment, Danlo looked up into the sky in sudden understanding. You havecome to find my father, yes? Perhaps. Not just . . . to Farfara, Danlo said. You would follow our Mission tothe Vild. Now, for the first time, Malaclypse seemed slightly surprised. Heregarded Danlo coolly and said, I had heard that you were too perceptive fora mere pilot now I see that this is so.ÜYou would follow us, Danlo repeated. But follow . . . how? Warrior-poetsdo not pilot lightships, do they?NThe Merchant-Pilots of Tria, of course, did pilot ships: deepships andprayerships, and sometimes even lightships. They journeyed to Nwarth andAlumit and Farfara, but no Merchant-Pilot would ever think of taking alightship into the Vild. There is a man, Malaclypse said. He pointed alongthe curve of the retaining wall at a stand of orange trees some forty feetaway. A former pilot of your Order. He will take me where I need to go.– As Danlo saw, beneath an orange tree laden with bright, round fruits, therestood a silent man dressed all in grey. Danlo recognized him as the infamousrenegade, Sivan wi Mawi Sarkissian, once a pilot of great promise who haddeserted the Order in the time of the Quest for the Elder Eddas. None of theother pilots whom Mer Tadeo had invited would bear the shame of talking tosuch a faithless man, and so Sivan stood alone, sipping from his goblet ofwine.ä And where is it that you need to go, then? Danlo asked. Wherever I must,Malaclypse said. But Ive heard that Mallory Ringess has returned to theVild. Somewhere. It may be that your Orders mission will cause him to makehimself known. And then? And then IÔ shall know, Malaclypse said. And then I shall do what must bedone. You would murder my father, yes?ÒIf he is truly a god, I would help him toward his moment of the possible.If he is truly . . . a god?¦If he is still a man, I would only ask him to complete a poem. What . . .poem?´ A poem that Ive been composing for some time. Only a man who has refusedto become a god would know how to complete it. Danlo looked off at the IstasRiver gleaming in the starlight, but he said nothing. I believe that youmight know where your father is. Danlo squeezed his empty wine glass betweenhis hands, but he remained as silent as the sky. It may be that we share thesame mission, you and I, Malaclypse said. I believe that were both seekingyour father.Ä Was it possible, Danlo wondered, that Malaclypses only purpose in seekingthe Vild was to lay eyes upon his father? He did not think so. Thewarrior-poets always had purposes within purposes and often their deepestpurpose was war. Youre very good at keeping a silence, Malaclypse said.Very well, then let us listen to what our host is saying.’ As Danlo looked down at the dark forest far below the cliff face, he becameaware of a voice falling through the spaces all around him. It was the voice Page 19
  20. 20. ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.htmlof Mer Tadeo, convolved and amplified by the music pools, hanging like asilver mist over the lawns of the garden. Mer Tadeo had begun his toast, andDanlo looked away from the¦ warrior-poet to concentrate on Mer Tadeos words: . . . these brave womenand menô of the Civilized Worlds most honoured Order, who have vowed to enter theVild and seek . . . Danlo became aware, just then, that his glass was empty.In his haste to seek out the warrior-poet, he hadnt had time to fill it.Pilot, youve no wine to drink, Malaclypse said. Quickly, easily, he movedover to Danlo and held up his wine glass as if he were showing Danlo somesecret elixir. He tinked it against Danlos glass, and a clear note rang out.Then he quickly poured a stream of ruby wine into Danlos glass, halfway tothe rim, spilling not a drop. Wont you drink to the fulfilment of theMission? he asked. Danlo brought his glass close to his lips, but did notdrink. He breathed in deeply, smelling the wine. It had an effervescent scentthat was almost hot and peppery. He wondered if Malaclypse would dare poisonhim in clear sight of ten thousand people. The warrior-poets, he knew, werenotorious for their poisons: a thousand years ago at the end of the War of theFaces, they had engineered the virus that had poisoned the Civilized Worlds,and ultimately, had infected the Devaki people on Danlos world and killedeveryone in his tribe except Danlo. Have you ever tasted firewine?Malaclypse asked. Danlo remembered, then, that the warrior-poets poisons arenot always meant to kill. He remembered that a warrior-poet had once poisonedhis grandmother, Dama Moira Ringess. This infamous warrior-poet had jabbedlittle needles into her neck, filling her blood with programmed bacteriacalled slel cells. These cells, like manmade cancers, had metastasized intoher brain, where they had destroyed millions of neurons and neuron clusters.The slel cells had layered down microscopic sheets of protein neurologics,living computers that might be grafted onto human brains. And so hisgrandmother, who was also the mother of Mallory Ringess, had been slelled, hermarvellous human brain replaced almost entirely by a warrior-poets programmedcomputer circuitry. As Danlo drank in the firewines heady aroma, he could notforget how the mother of his father had suffered such a death-in-life. Icannot drink with you, Danlo said at last. No? I am sorry.– Malaclypse looked deeply at Danlo but said nothing. As a pilot, I may notdrink with my Orders enemies. Malaclypse smiled, then, sadly, beautifully,and he asked, Are you so sure that were enemies?*Truly . . . we are.¼ Then dont drink with me, Malaclypse said. But do drink. Tonight,everyone will drink to the glory of the Vild Mission, and so should you. NowMer Tadeo had finished his toast, and the sudden sound of ten thousand glassesclinking together rang out through the garden. Danlo, who had once soughtaffirmation above all other things, listened deeply to this tremendous soundof ringing glass. It was like a pure, crystal music recalling a time in hislife when he had trusted the truth that his eyes might behold. Now he lookedat Malaclypses deep violet eyes, smiling at him, beckoning him to drink, andhe could see that the wine was only wine, that it was infused with neithervirus nor slel cells nor other poisons. Because Danlo needed to affirm thistruth of his eyes at any cost, he touched his wine glass to his lips and tooka deep drink. Instantly, the smooth tissues of his tongue and throat were onfire. For a moment he worried that the wine was indeed tainted with a poison,perhaps even with the electric ekkana drug that would never leave his body andwould make an agony of all the moments of his life. But then the burning alonghis tongue gave way to an intriguing tingling sensation, which in turnsoftened into a wonderfulv coolness almost reminiscent of peppermint. Truly, the wine was only wine,theÎdelicious firewine that merchants and aficionados across the Civilized Worldsare always eager to seek. Page 20
  21. 21. ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.html6 Congratulations, Malaclypse said. Then he raised his glass and bowed toDanlo. To our mission. To the eternal moment when all things are possible.Malaclypse took a sip of wine, then, even as Danlo lowered his goblet andpoured the remnants of his priceless firewine over the grass beneath his feet.He had said that he may not drink with a warrior-poet, and drink he would not.I am . . . sorry, he said.xIm sorry, too. Im sorry that it isnt you who will be piloting my ship intothe Vild. The warrior-poets sense of time was impeccable. Upon his utteranceof the word Vild, the manswarms spread throughout the garden began callingout numbers. One hundred . . . ninety-nine . . . ninety-eight . . .ninety-seven . . . Following Mer Tadeos example, men and women all aroundDanlo began crying out in unison, and their indi- vidual voices merged into asingle, long, dark roar. Now many faces were turned eastward, up toward thesky. Merchants in their silver kimonos, pilots and Ordermen in their formalrobes all lifted their faces to the stars as they called down the numbersand pointed at the patch of space where the Sonderval had promised thesupernova would appear. Sixty-six . . . sixty-five . . . sixty-four . . .sixty-three . . . The warrior-poet, too, aimed his long, graceful fingertoward the heavens. In his clear, strong voice, he called down the numbersalong with everyone else, counting ever backwards toward zero. Twenty-two . ..twenty-one . . . twenty . . . nineteen . . . At last, Danlo looked up at starsof the Vild, waiting. It amused (and awed) him to think that theseuncountable, nameless stars might somehow be waiting for him, even as hewaited for their wild light to fill his eyes. Once, when he was a child, hehad thought that stars were the eyes of his ancestors watching him, waitingfor him to realize that he, too, in his deepest self, was really a wild whitestar who would always belong to the night. The stars, he knew, could waitalmost forever for a man to be born into his true nature, and that was thegreat mystery of the stars. Four . . . three . . . two . . . one . . .ÌThere was a moment. For a moment the sky was just the sky, and the stars wenton twinkling forever. Danlo thought that perhaps the Sondervals calculationshad been wrong, that no new star would appear that night. And then thisendless moment, which lasted much less than a second, finally ended. Above theeastern horizon, above the dark mountains, a point of light broke out of theblackness and quickly blossomed into dazzling white sphere. Its radianceswirled about an infinitely bright centre, and flecks of fire spun out intothe farthest reaches of space. It was almost impossible to look at, thiswildflower of light that hurt Danlos eyes, and so he turned to see tenthousand people squinting, grimacing, standing with their hands pushingoutward above their eyes as if to shield themselves from this terrible newstar. It almost seemed that there should have been a great noise to accompanythis event, as with a fireworks display, some searing hiss of burnt air orcosmic thunder. But the sky was strangely silent, as ever, and the only soundsin the garden were the inrush of many peoples breaths, the chirping of theevening birds, the splash of water and wine falling in the many fountains. Themerchants of Farfara (and even the many ungloved servants) were obviouslyhushed and awed by what they saw, as if they were witnessing the birth of anew child. Danlo remembered, then, that this supernova was no new star beingborn, but rather a doomed star that attains its most brilliant moment in dyinginto light. It was all light, this beautiful star. It was all alpha and gammaand waves of hard radiation that men had freed from matter in their frenzy toremake the universe. It was photons breaking through the night, burning thesky, onstreaming¦ through the universe without end. Although Danlo had waited only a momentfor this„ light to fall upon the garden, men on other worlds would have to waitmillennia to see it. At the speed of light through vacuum, it would be sometwenty thousand years before the supernovas light crossed the galaxy and Page 21
  22. 22. ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.htmlrained down upon the city of Neverness. But there were other stars, nearer andmore deadly, and Danlo remembered very well that twenty years ago, one namedMerripens Star had exploded very near the Star of Neverness. Almost all hislife, a wavefront of light and death had been advancing through the blackdrears of space upon Neverness, and soon, in only six more years, the peopleof Neverness would see the Vild for what it truly was. And this was the truereason that the Order had sent a Mission to the Vild. The Vild, Danlo thought,was an inferno of murderous light and broken spacetime that existed whereverhuman beings were so mad as to destroy the stars. And so the men and women ofthe Order must go to the Vild before the Vild came to them. I must go now,Danlo said. He bowed to Malaclypse and then looked down at his empty wineglass. Farewell, Poet. Until we meet again, Malaclypse said. Fall far and farewell, Pilot.Because Danlo did not want to think that they would meet again, he smiledgrimly as he turned and walked back through the crowds. Between the hot,packed bodies of the many awestruck people, beneath the light of the new star,he walked back toward the Fountain of Fortune. There, the Sonderval hadgathered together the pilots of the Order. Lara Jesusa, Richardess, ZapataKarek, Leander of Darkmoon they were all there, even the fabulous Aja, whowas sometimes a woman, sometimes a man, and who was said to be the purestpilot ever to have come out of the Academy on Neverness. Without a care forsoiling the sleeve of his robe, Danlo plunged his wine glass into thefountain, and he stood there drinking with his fellow pilots, clinking glassesand drinking and letting drops of bright red firewine run down over his nakedhand. The pilots spoke of their sacred Mission, and the Sonderval called outthe names of the hundred pilots who would follow him and guide the deepshipsand seedships to the Orders new home on Thiells. The rest of the pilotsincluding Danlo would seek the lost planet called Tannahill. Each of thesepilots, according to his genius and fate, would enter the pathless, unknownVild, there to seek signs and secrets that might lead them to their journeysend. Danlo, himself, would go where the stars were the wildest. He would findhis father among all the bright, dying stars and ask him a simple question.That Malaclypse Redring might follow him in the renegades lightship was of nomatter. He could not fear that a warrior-poet might murder his father. For ifhis father was really a god, how could even the most murderous of men harmhim? As Danlo drank his wine and gazed up at the blazing new star in the sky,he wondered how anything could ever harm those beautiful and terrible beingsthat men knew as gods. CHAPTER TWO.The Eye of the UniverseHI am the eye with which the UniverseNBeholds itself and knows itself divine.,- Percy Bysshe ShelleyrThe next day, Danlo took his lightship into the Vild. The Snowy Owl‚ was a long and graceful ship, a beautiful sweep of spun diamond some twohundred feet from tip to tail; as it fell across the galaxy it was like aneedle of light stitching in and out of the manifold, that marvellous,shimmering fabric of deep reality that folds between the stars and underliesthe spacetime of all the universe. The ships of the Vild Mission fell fromstar to star, and there were many stars along their way toward the star andplanet named as Thiells. As ever, Danlo was awestruck by the numbers of thestars, the cool red and orange stars, the hot blue giants that were thegalaxys jewels, the thousands upon thousands of yellow stars burning assteadily and faithfully as Old Earths sun. No one knew how many stars lit thelens of the Milky Way. The Orders astronomers had said that there were atleast five hundred billion stars in the galaxy, blazing in dense clusters atthe core, spinning ever outward in brilliant spirals along the arms of thegalactic plane. And more stars were being born all the time. In the brightnebulae such as the Rudra and the Rosette, out of gravity and heat and Page 22
  23. 23. ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.htmlinterstellar dust, the new stars continually formed and flared into light. Ahundred generations of stars had lived and died in the eons before the Star ofNeverness, among others, ever came into being. Stars, like people, were alwaysdying. Sometimes, as Danlo looked out over the vast light-distances hemarvelled that so many human beings could arise from stardust and thefundamental urge of all matter toward life. Scattered among all the galaxysfar-flung stars were perhaps fifty million billion people. On the CivilizedWorlds alone every second some three million women, men, and children woulddie, wereL dying, will always be passing from life into death. It was only rightand natural, Danlo thought, that human beings should create themselves intheir vast and hungry swarms, but it was not right that they should seek agreater life by killing the stars. This was all sacrilege and sin, or evenshaida,ž a word that Danlo sometimes used to describe the evil of a universethat, likeVa top failing to spin or a cracked teapot, had lost its harmony and balance.All matter craved transformation into light, and this Danlo understood deepinside his belly and brain. But already, in this infinite universe from whichhe had been born, there was too much light. The stars of the Vild were sickwith light, swelling and bursting into the hellish lightstorms that men calledsupernovas. Soon, someday, perhaps farwhen, the vastness of the Vild would bea blinding white cloud full of photons and hard radiation, and then this tinypocket of the universe would no longer be transparent to light. No longerwould men such as Danlo be able to look at the stars and see the universe justas it is, for all space would be light, and all time would be light, alwaysand forever, nothing but light and ever more dazzling light. It was toward thelight of Thiells that the pilots steered, there to build a city and a newOrder. The rest of the pilots, including Danlo, would accompany the Mission asfar as Sattva Luz, a magnificent white star well within the inner envelope ofthe Vild. And so it happened. The journey to Sattva Luz was uneventful, forthe Sonderval had already mapped the pathways that led from star to star; hehad told the pilots the fixed-points of every star along their path, and soDanlo and the Snowy Owl fell fromœ Savona to Shokan and then on to Sattva Luz as smoothly as corpuscles ofblood¬ streaming through a mans veins. This segment of the journey was much thesame as fenestering through the Fallaways, only fraught with dangers that fewpilots had ever faced. In any part of the Vild even along the pathways wellmapped and well known at any moment the spacetime distortions of anexploding star might fracture a pathway into a thousand individualdecomposition strands thereby destroying any ship so unfortunate as to becaught in the wrong strand. Around Sattva Luz, where the many millions ofpathways through the manifold converged into a thickspace as dark and dense asa ball of lead, the pilots dispersed. The main body of Mission ships guided bythe Sonderval was the first to fall away. Danlo, whose ship had fallen out ofthe manifold into realspace for a few moments, watched them go. Below himten million miles below the Snowy Owl . was the boiling white corona ofSattva Luz. Above him there wavered a sea of blackness and many namelessstars. He waited as the Sondervals ship, the" Cardinal Virtue,ª fell intothe bright black manifold and disappeared. He was aware of this event as alittle flash of light; soon there came many more flashes of light as thesoundless engines of the Mission ships ripped open rents in spacetime and fellinto the manifold. The pilots in their glorious lightships and the pilotsin the deepships and in the seedships opened windows upon the universe, andthey fell in, and they were gone. Then the remaining pilots fell in, too. TheSnowy Owl and the Neurosinger, the Deus ex Machina and the Rose ofArmageddon † two hundred and fifty-four ships and pilots sought their fatesand€ vanished into the deepest part of the Vild. For Danlo, as for any pilot, Page 23
  24. 24. ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.htmlmathematics was the key that opened the many windows through which hislightship passed. Mathematics was like a bright, magic sword that sliced openthe veils of the manifold and illuminated the dark caverns of nevernesswaiting for him there. The Page 24
  25. 25. ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.html Snowy Owl fell far and deep, and in the pit of his ship Danlo floated andproved the theorems that let him see his way through the chaos all around him.He floated because there was no gravity; in the manifold, there is neitherspace nor force nor time, and so, in the very centre of his ship, he floatedand dreamed mathematics in vivid, waking dreams, and fell on and on. Immersedas he was in the realm of pure number, in that marvellous interior space thatthe pilots know as the dreamtime, he had little sense of himself. He couldscarcely feel his weightless arms and legs, or his empty hands, or even thefamiliar ivory skin that enveloped his long, lean body. He needed neither heatnor clothing, and so he floated naked as a newborn child. In many ways, attimes, the pit of a lightship is like a womb. In truth, the pits interior isa living computer, the very mind and soul of a lightship; it is a sphere ofneurologics woven of protein circuitry, rich and soft as purple velvet.Sometimes it is all darkness and comfort and steamy air as dense-seeming assea water. When a pilot faces away from his ship for instance, during thoserare moments when he is safe inside a null space and he breaks interface withthe logic field enveloping him there is no sight and very little engagementof the other physical senses. But at other times, the pit is something other.When a pilot faces the manifold and his mind becomes as one with the shipscomputer, then there is the cold, clear light of pure mathematics. Then thepit is like a brilliantly-lit crystal cave lined with sapphires and firestonesand other precious jewels. The pilots mind fills with the crystal-likesymbols of probabilistic topology: the emerald snowflake representing theJordan-Holder Theorem; the diamond glyphs of the mapping lemmas; the amethystcurlicues of the statement of Invariance of Dimension; and all the otherthousands of sparkling mental symbols that the pilots call ideoplasts. Onlythen will a pilot perceive the torison spaces and Flow-tow bubbles andinfinite trees that undermine the manifold, much as a sleekits twistingtunnels lie hidden beneath¦ crusts of snow. Only when a pilot opens his mind to the manifold will themanifoldÜopen before him so that he may see this strange reality just as it is andmake his mappings from star to star.ÈSo it was that Danlo became aware of his fellow pilots as they set out ontheir journeys. As did the Snowy Owl,< their ships perturbed the manifoldlike so many stones dropped into a pool of water. Danlo perceived theseperturbations as ripples of light, a purely mathematical light which he hadbeen trained to descry and fathom. For a while, as the lightships remainedwithin a well-defined region known as a Lavi neighbourhood, with his mindseye he followed the luminous pathways of the lightships as they fell outwardtoward the galaxys many stars. And then, one by one, as the pilots fell awayfrom each other and the radius of convergence shot off toward infinity, eventhese ships were lost to his sight. Only nine other ships remained within thesame neighbourhood as the Snowy Owl.° These nine ships and their pilots heknew very well, for they each had vowed to penetrate the same spaces of theVild. A few of them were already distinguished for their part in the PilotsWar: Sarolta Sen and Dolore Nun, and the impossibly brave Leander of Darkmoonwho craved danger as other men do women or wine. Then was Rurik Boaz in theLamb of God,R and the sly Li Te Mu Lan who piloted the Diamond Lotus.T Therewas another lotus ship as well, the2 Thousand Petalled Lotus,¨ which belongedto Valin wi Tymon Whitestone, of the Simoom Whitestones. (It is something of acuriosity that many pilots still name their ships after the lotus flower. Oncea time, of course, a thousand years ago when the Tycho was Lord Pilot, one inevery ten ships was so called. The Tycho, an imperious and whimsical man, sowearied of this custom that he forbade his pilots to name their ships afterany flower. But in a quiet rebellion led by Veronika Ede in her Lotus ofLotuses,˜ the pilots had defied him. Over the centuries there have always beenfamous lotus ships: the Golden Lotus; the( Lotus of Neverness; the InfiniteLotus ;z and many, many others.) Three other pilots had set out towards a Page 25
  26. 26. ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.htmlcertain cluster of stars beyond the Eta Carina Nebula; they were the Rosaleenand Ivar Sarad, in a ship curiously named the Bottomless Cup.0 And finally,of course, Shamir the Bold, he who had once journeyed further toward thegalactic core than any other pilot since Leopold Soli. All these pilots, inMer Tadeos garden on the night of the supernova, had vowed to enter thatdark, strange nebula known as the Solid State Entity. Like Mallory Ringessbefore them, they had vowed to fall among the most dangerous of stars in thehope that they might speak with one of the galaxys greatest gods. Even beforeDanlo had left Neverness, on a night of omens as he stood on a windswept beachlooking up at the stars, he had planned to penetrate the Entity, too. Thatother pilots had made similar plans did not surprise him. Ten pilots were fewenough to search a volume of space some ten thousand cubic light-years involume. Ten pilots could easily lose themselves in such a nebula, like grainsof sand scattered upon an ocean. Even so, Danlo took comfort in the company ofhis fellow pilots, and he continually watched the manifold for theperturbations that their ships made. Including the Snowy Owl,l ten shipsfell among the stars. Many times, he counted the ships; he wanted to be surethat their number was ten, a comforting and complete number. Ten was thenumber of fingers on his hands, and on the hands of all natural human beings.Ten, in decimal systems of counting, symbolizes the totality of the universein the way all things return to unity. Ten was the perfect number, he thought,and so it dismayed him that at times he couldnt be sure if there were reallyten ships after all. More than once, usually after they had passed through aspinning thickspace around some red giant star, his count of the ships yieldeda different number. This should not have been so. Counting is the mostfundamental of the mathematical arts, as natural as the natural numbers thatfall off from one to infinity. Danlo, who had¢ been born with a rare mathematical gift, had been able to count almostbefore heH could talk, and so it should have been the simplest thing for him to knowwhether the number of ships in the neighbourhood near him was ten or five orfifty. Certainly, by the time they had passed a fierce white star that Danloimpulsively named The Wolf, he knew that there were at least ten ships but nomore than eleven. At times, as he peered into the dark heart of the manifold,he thought that he could make out the composition wave of a mysteriouseleventh ship. Looking for this ship was like looking at a unique pattern oflight reflected from a pool of water. At times he was almost certain of thispattern, but at other times, as when a rock is thrown into a quiet pool, thepattern would break apart only to reform a moment later reflecting nothing.The eleventh ship, if indeed there really were4 an eleventh ship, appeared to hover ghostlike at the very threshold ofthe radius of convergence. It was impossible to say it was really there,impossible to say it was not. Even as the ten pilots kleined coreward towardthe Solid State Entity, this ghost ship haunted the mappings of the others,remaining always at the exact boundary of their neighbourhood of stars. Danlohad never dreamed that anyone could pilot a ship so flawlessly. In truth, hehoped that there was no eleventh pilot, no matter how skilled or prescient hemight be. Eleven, as he knew, was a most perilous number. It was the number ofexcess and transition, of conflict, martyrdom, even war., As it happened, Danlo wasnt the only pilot to detect an eleventh ship. Nearan unnamed star, Li Te Mu Lans ship fell out of the manifold into realspace.She remained beneath the light of this star for long seconds of time, a signalthat the other pilots should join her, if they so pleased. It was thetraditional invitation to a conclave of pilots, made in the only way a pilotcan issue such an invitation. Since radio waves and other such signals willnot propagate through the manifold, but only through realspace, the ten pilotsfell out into the weak starlight of this weak yellow sun, and sent laser beamsflashing from ship to ship. The computer of the Snowy OwlÚ decoded theinformation bound into the laser light and made pictures for Danlo to see. Itmade faces and sounds and voices, and suddenly the pit of his ship was very Page 26
  27. 27. ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.htmlcrowded, for there were nine other pilots there with him. That is, the Page 27
  28. 28. ABC Amber Sony Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcsonylrf.html heads0 of his nine fellow pilots floated in the dark air around him.Watching the phased light waves of these nine holograms was almost likeentering one of Nevernesss numerous cafes and sitting at table with friendsover mugs of steaming coffee and the comfort of conversation. It was almost6like that. In truth, it disquieted Danlo to think of his severed, glowing headappearing in the pits of nine other lightships. There was something eerie inholding a conclave in this way, here, in the black deeps of the Vild, perhapssix hundred trillion miles from any other human being. It was disturbing andstrange, but when Li Te Mu Lan began speaking, Danlo concentrated on the wordsthat she was saying:ª I believe that there is another pilot accompanying us, Li Te said. She hada perfectly shaped head as round and brown and bare of hair as a baldo nut.Her body, as Danlo remembered, was round, too, though he could see nothing ofher body just now, only her glowing, round head. Does anyone know if there isanother pilot accompanying us?f Ten pilots vowed to penetrate the Entity, Ivar Sarad said. He was athin-faced man with a penchant for cold abstractions and inventing paranoid(and bizarre) interpretations of reality. We stood together before theSonderval and vowed this. Perhaps the Sonderval has sent a pilot to verifythat we fulfil our vows. A pilot whose head was as broad and hairy as that ofa musk-ox could not accept this. Shamir the Bold, with his courage andoptimism, his decisiveness and sense of honour, laughed and said, No, theSonderval would believe that well do what weš vowed to do. At least, hell believe that well attempt to fulfil our vows. Then who pilots the eleventh ship? This came from the Rosaleen, a shy,anxious woman who appeared to take no notice of her worth as pilot or humanbeing. I wonder if there isN an eleventh ship, Ivar Sarad said. Can we becertain of this? I, myself, am not. The wave function can be interpreted inother ways. Do you think so? Shamir the Bold asked. What ways? In thewake of our passing, the composition series could be inverted as a Gallivarespace that would ThatÄ is unlikely, Li Te Mu Lan observed. No one has ever proved theexistence of a Gallivare space. Ivar Sarad regarded her coldly, suspiciously. Well, then perhaps it is areflection? Perhaps the line wake of one of our ships is being reflectedLeopold Soli once said that, in the Vild, the manifold can flatten out assmooth and reflective as a mirror. Of course, Ivar Sarad was not the onlypilot to doubt the existence of an eleventh ship. Sarolta Sen, Dolores Nun,and Leander of Darkmoon were wont to agree with Ivar Sarad, though fordifferent and more common-sense reasons. But Rurik Boaz and Valin wi TymonWhitestone sided with Li Te Mu Lan. Valin Whitestone was even selfless enoughto propose that the others continue toward the Solid State Entity while hekleined backward along their pathway to seek out the eleventh ship. He wouldlearn the identity of this mysterious eleventh pilot. If possible, he wouldthen rejoin the others, who, by this time, would no doubt have shared in theglory of being the only pilots since Mallory Ringess to wrest great knowledgefrom the goddess that some called Kalinda the Wise.Î Until this moment, Danlo had kept his silence. He was the youngest of thepilots, and so he thought it seemly to let the others take the lead in thisconversation. Then, too, from his once and deepest friend, Hanuman li Tosh,who had remained in Neverness, he had learned the value of keeping secrets.But it was not right that he should keep important information from his fellowpilots. He couldnt let the noble Valin Whitestone sacrifice himself for amere secret, and so he said, It is possible . . . that a ronin pilot guidesthe eleventh ship. Sivan wi Mawi Sarkissian, the ronin you all know of him,yes? It is possible that he carries a warrior-poet into the Vild. In the pitof Danlos ship, the heads of the nine other pilots turned his way. Li Te MuLan and the Rosaleen, Rurik Boaz and Shamir the Bold, and the others lookedat him as if he were merely some journeyman pilot who had suffered his firstintoxication with the number storm or the dreamtime. Finally, after they Page 28

×